stanley hauerwas

Stanley Hauerwas Drops Out of General Theological Seminary Lecture Series After Controversy

Stanley Hauerwas. Photo © Duke University, Photography by Jim Wallace/RNS.

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas has declined a series of lectures he was scheduled to give at New York’s General Theological Seminary in November in the wake of the crisis roiling the school.

On Oct. 8, the Christian ethicist said he does not want to get in the middle of a controversy involving the resignations or firings of eight faculty.

Two weeks ago, the eight faculty members quit teaching classes and attending official seminary meetings or chapel services until they could sit down with the Board of Trustees.

Hauerwas, who is professor emeritus of divinity and law at Duke Divinity School, said he pulled out of the lecture series so he would not appear to take a side.

“I was looking forward to going because I’ve known of General for my whole academic life, but I had never been there. At one time, it represented a commitment to an Anglo-Catholic tradition with which I’m very sympathetic,” said Hauerwas, who attends an Episcopal church in Chapel Hill, N.C. “I think the situation is one of deep pathos; it’s just pathetic. I’m sorry that I’ve gotten caught in it.”

Syrian Debate Highlights Division in 'Just War' Doctrine

Even as the world’s powers grasped for a last-minute resolution to the crisis in Syria, it remained an open question whether any amount of diplomacy could prevent the conflict from claiming at least one more victim: the classic Christian teaching known as the “just war” tradition.

The central problem is not that the just war doctrine is being dismissed or condemned, but that it is loved too much. Indeed, both sides in the debate over punishing the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons are citing just war theory, but are reaching diametrically opposed conclusions.

Local Church as Radical Witness

STANLEY HAUERWAS’ new book War and the American Difference is not the first volume that he has written on the theme of war, but it’s the first one he’s released post-9/11. Although the Duke Divinity School professor frequently writes on topics of war, peace, and violence, this new volume is perhaps his clearest account to date of the church’s witness in a violent world. Like most of Hauerwas’ previous work, this new collection of essays is not for the faint of heart—or mind. Although the reading gets somewhat dense at times, it is ultimately rewarding, a beacon of Christ’s peace in an age of endless war.

Readers who are familiar with Hauerwas’ work might be tempted to put down the book after the first few essays, which rehash themes that have characterized his work for more than a quarter-century. In these early chapters, Hauerwas explores thorny questions such as the nature of “America’s God” and why war is a “moral necessity” for the United States, peppering his writing with provocative statements such as “America is an extraordinarily wealthy society, determined to remain so even if it requires our domination of the rest of the world.”

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Jesus Knows Sign Language

During my last year of college, my pastor lent me the book Living Gently in a Violent World, co-authored by Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas. This book is an exploration on how followers of Christ ought to live in broken world.

The introduction of the book recounts the story of Jean Vanier teaching a course on pastoral care. During one class, Vanier asked the students to share some of their spiritual experiences. One of the students, Angela (who was deaf) began to share a dream she had where she met Jesus in heaven. She recalled talking with Jesus for some time and never experiencing so much joy and peace. "Jesus was everything I had hoped he would be," she said, "And his signing was amazing!" Vanier explains to the reader that "for Angela, heaven's perfection did not involve being 'healed' of her deafness. Rather, it was a place where the social, relational, and communication barriers that restricted her life in the present no longer existed."

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